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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chinese Lawyers' Motion Defends Falun Gong in Court for First Time

Epoch Times: By Samantha Lev
The Human Rights Law Foundation
Oct 25, 2007

Six lawyers defend Falun Gong practitioner Wang Bo and her parents. (NTDTV)
Six lawyers defend Falun Gong practitioner Wang Bo and her parents. (NTDTV)

In a daring and unprecedented motion recently smuggled out of China, six Chinese lawyers have for the first time formally defended Falun Gong adherents' right to freedom of belief in court.

"Falun Gong … which advocates 'truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance,' has been banned and persecuted for no justifiable reason at all," says the document. "The current various punitive actions against Falun Gong believers do not have any legal basis, and must therefore be stopped."

The defendants in the case are a family of three—Wang Bo, 27, and her two parents, Wang Xinzhong and Liu Shuqin. All three practice Falun Gong, a Chinese meditation and spiritual discipline. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned the practice in 1999, when several leaders perceived Falun Gong as a threat to their power after its adherents reportedly outnumbered Party members.

To strengthen the campaign against Falun Gong, the CCP issued directives barring attorneys from defending practitioners. Since then, the authorities have disbarred or arrested most attorneys who have tried.

"In China, defense lawyers have themselves been arrested, arbitrarily detained, subject to criminal prosecution or imprisonment simply because they provide legal representation to Falun Gong adherents and other Chinese citizens targeted for persecution by the authorities," says Terri Marsh, executive director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.

Despite such circumstances, as the family's trial approached, six lawyers from Beijing—Li Heping, Li Xiongbing, Zhang Lihui, Li Shunzhang, Teng Biao, and Wu Hongwei—decided to disregard the prohibition and represent Wang and her parents.

"I think Falun Gong practitioners have fundamental rights," said Teng Biao, one of the six attorneys, on a New Tang Dynasty Television program in April. "In the face of this persecution, intellectuals and attorneys in mainland China remain silent. This kind of silence is unconscionable, and that is why we're here to defend Wang Bo."

Download .pdf of English translation of lawyers' motion here.


But for Guo Guoting, a Shanghai lawyer who was disbarred and exiled to Canada in 2005 for defending Falun Gong, the most impressive aspect of the motion is the second part. It covers the unconstitutionality of the campaign against Falun Gong and argues that the persecution itself is illegal and invalid.

"In the case of Falun Gong, this is a fundamental principle," says Guo, who has authored several articles analyzing the campaign against Falun Gong. "A lot of Chinese lawyers who defend Falun Gong do not dare to mention this point. They just defend the individual practitioner, but don't argue against the whole persecution. [These lawyers] mention all the key points."

Having established the illegality of the ban on Falun Gong, the lawyers focus the next three sections on denouncing the measures taken to wipe out the practice and calling on the government to review its policy. (more)

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